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13th September 2022 EDT FEATURES

[Interview] Sneaker Collecting as a Student in Singapore: Marcus Ho

As Singapore's sneakerhead scene continues to blossom, we speak with local sneaker enthusiast Marcus Ho on the hobby of collecting, resale's role in the culture, and his considerations before making a purchase.


By Cheyenne Chia
Photos courtesy of Marcus Ho

Let’s be real — sneaker collecting is not an easy hobby to sustain. From an all-around inflation of sneaker retail prices (Nike is reportedly hiking the price of their Dunks this year) and an increasingly saturated release calendar, it’s not a scene with a low barrier of entry. A sneakerhead’s roster can seem dated in just a few months, and the race towards securing the next big collaboration or re-release is an arduous task that is, admittedly, oft self-inflicted. 

In such a crowded climate that only continues to grow in populace as pop culture fuels the desirability of sneakers and streetwear, the resale secondary market thrives. Though it is to some sneakerheads’ chagrin that flipping has become a mainstay in the culture, the existence of such a subspace has revolutionalized the nature of sneaker collection. As with any collecting hobby, a marketplace allows for global communities to form, for country-exclusive releases to become international travellers, and for sneakerheads to sustain and grow their own collection. 


For many digital-age sneakerheads, the resale value of sneakers on online marketplaces is what draws them to become active participants in the scene. At least, that was the case for Singaporean sneaker enthusiast Marcus Ho, who started his collection when he was a student and has been in the scene even before JD Sports and Footlocker were a thing in sunny Singapore. Citing the Nike Flyknit Racer hype in 2013/2014, he was fascinated by how unique colorways could be sold above their retail asking. And as the old story goes, fascination often leads to participation—soon he found himself in online raffles for the Off-White x Nike “The10” collection. 

sneakerhead singapore marcus ho

Though he failed to purchase any at retail, a quick peek into his gallery of aesthetic sneaker pictures and we can tell that his initial interest did not fizzle out like his raffle chances (we kid, of course). Instead, it has expanded into a fully-fledged passion. 

But beyond tangible resale value, the sense of community and sharing of mutual interests are truly what keeps him rooted in the passion. Through this hobby, he has been able to meet a host of collectors from all walks of life. This is the reason why he loves queuing for sneaker drops and going to sneaker conventions: “it’s when I feel the community comes alive”. 

We spoke to Marcus over email on his sneaker collection tips as a student, why he thinks resale has been absorbed by sneaker culture, and what factors to consider before making a purchase: 

Q: Hi Marcus! We heard through the grapevine that you started collecting sneakers when you were a student. Any tips on how to start your own collection at a younger age and to maintain it as it grows bigger in number? 

Yes, I did start collecting as a student! I love rotations and I usually don’t wear the same sneakers two days in a row. Once my rotation gets boring, and I find myself not wearing them as much as others, I’ll sell those sneakers to people who might appreciate them more. This way, I’m able to constantly have new shoes to wear, without having to spend more money each time I buy. Of course, I’ll take photos of these sneakers for keepsake, but I know that I won’t appreciate them as much as the people who I sell them to. 


Q: How big is your current collection? 

My current collection isn’t huge, maybe around 15 pairs or so? I only keep pairs that mean something to me, such as the first and only pair of Jordan 1s that I customised myself. The Jordan 1 Court Purple was an incredibly popular shoe for customisation. By sanding down the leather layer into a suede material, it gives the sneaker a better shade of purple and a better aesthetic, in my opinion.

Another pair would be the Sean Wotherspoon Nike Air Max 97/1, which I managed to get for retail! This happened at the Grand Opening of JD Sports ION, which was also the first ever JD Sports store in Singapore. The first 200 people on opening day would be entered into a ‘Sure-Win’ lucky draw that consisted of a mixed bag of items. I arrived at 6.30am with my friend and there were already over 100 people ahead of us in the queue. But lady luck was on our side—we both won! We managed to get them in our size. That made the whole 4 hours queue worth it. 


Q: We understand that you have a particular fondness for collaboration pieces. Do you have a dream sneaker collaboration that you hope to acquire in your collection? 

I own/have owned most of the hyped collaboration pieces such as Off-White x Nike, Travis Scott x Nike, JJJJound x New Balance, etc. But I think one of the pairs that I’m still hoping to get in my collection would be the Tom Sachs x Mars Yard collab because the details on the shoe and the limited quantity produced make me yearn for it more. It’s also a piece that isn’t particularly loud, but those who are in the scene will know how valuable that pair is. 

Q: Why do you participate in sneaker reselling? 

To me, reselling is one of the ways whereby sneakerheads can get income to purchase more shoes that we personally like. When there is a certain demand for a shoe, many people are willing to pay above retail price to get their hands on them. If they’re not shoes that I’m particularly interested in, and I know I can make a quick buck, I’ll definitely seize the opportunity to do so. Reselling has become such a huge thing in the sneaker community and I think most sneakerheads have accepted this as the norm. 


Q: What are some factors that go into your decisions to purchase or sell your sneakers? 

There are 3 things that I look out for before purchasing a sneaker: 

1. Exclusivity: How limited this sneaker is and how difficult it is to get a pair

2. Aesthetic: It needs to be a pair which I vibe with, something that matches the way I dress and a nice colourway

3. Price: It has to be justified. If I’m paying resale price for a sneaker, it definitely needs to be something special. 

When I’m selling my sneakers, however, I simply sell the ones I don’t reach out for. They deserve to be worn and I wouldn’t want to take that opportunity away from someone else.

Q: What kind of sneakers or brands do you particularly enjoy wearing and collecting? 

Recently, I’m really into New Balance. New Balance has had a great run the past 2-3 years and I’m glad that more people are starting to realise its value. Although it doesn’t have huge collaborations like Nike or Adidas does, the quality, material and aesthetic of their sneakers are incredibly unique. And the comfort is next level. Try the 2002R if you haven’t. They are the most comfortable shoes in my collection by far.

Q: Who are your personal style inspirations? 

I really just go for what I like. Most importantly, it’s to wear what you love with confidence. Your style is a representation of who you are so it should be original. 
Special thanks to Marcus Ho for the delightful interview and images.

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